Ethnic minorities faced governmental discrimination. The inconsistent issuance of national identification cards, which were required for voting, effectively disenfranchised many members of southern minority groups. Racial and cultural tension and discrimination also arose from the geographic and cultural divides between Moors and Afro-Mauritanians. The Moors are divided among numerous ethnolinguistic tribal and clan groups and further distinguished as
either White Moor or Black Moor, although it was often difficult to distinguish between the two by skin color. White Moor tribes and clans, many of whom are dark-skinned after centuries of intermarriage with Berbers and sub-Saharan African groups, dominated positions in government and business. The Black Moors (also called haratines or freed slaves) remained politically and economically weaker than White Moors. Afro-Mauritanian ethnic groups, which include the Halpulaar (the largest non-Moor group), Wolof, and Soninke, are concentrated in the South and urban areas. Afro-Mauritanians were underrepresented in the government and military.
The constitution designates Arabic as the official language and Arabic, Pulaar, Soninke, and Wolof as the country's national languages. The government continued to encourage French and Arabic bilingualism within the school system, as opposed to earlier efforts at arabization." Neither the Afro-Mauritanian national languages nor the local Hassaniya Arabic dialect were used as languages of instruction. On April 20, a riot between Afro-Mauritanian and Moor students broke out at Nouakchott University over allegations of fraud during a student union vote that was split mainly along ethnic lines.
Ethnic rivalry contributed to political divisions and tensions. Some political parties tended to have readily identifiable ethnic bases, although political coalitions among parties were increasingly important. Black Moors and Afro-Mauritanians continued to be underrepresented in mid- to high-level public and private sector jobs.
There were numerous reports of land disputes between former slaves, Afro-Mauritanians, and Moors. According to human rights activists and press reports, local authorities allowed Moors to expropriate land occupied by former slaves and Afro-Mauritanians or to obstruct access to water and pastures.
Human rights NGOs reported numerous cases of inheritance disputes between slaves or former slaves and their masters. Traditionally, slave masters inherited their slaves' possessions.
The government's Program to Eradicate the Effects of Slavery, begun in 2009, continued during the year. Its goals were to reduce poverty among the 44,750 former slaves in the Assaba, Brakna, Gorgol, and Hodh Chargui regions and improve their access to water, health, education, and income- generating opportunities. However, the program's activities were reduced during the year after former human rights commissioner Ould Daddeh was arrested along with and senior-level staff, including its coordinator and its financial director, on findings of corruption in a government inspection. NGOs maintained that the commissioner was arrested for political reasons.
The government also continued its collaborative program with the UN on conflict prevention aimed at promoting democratic values and the rights of marginalized populations, including former slaves. According to the NGO SOS Esclaves, these programs focused on fighting poverty and the effects of slavery rather than the practice of slavery itself.